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Port Alberni Fire Department has busy night

Department called out twice to hog fuel pile fire at the mill
A member of the Port Alberni Fire Department works to extinguish a fire in a hog fuel pile at the Catalyst Paper mill site on Stamp Avenue. (FACEBOOK PHOTO COURTESY PAFD)

The Port Alberni Fire Department (PAFD) had a busy night earlier this week, responding to almost a dozen calls between Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Wednesday, Nov. 23.

From the start of night shift (11 p.m.) up until 9:30 a.m., PAFD Chief Mike Owens says the department responded to 11 calls, including several fires and some first responder calls.

“That’s a heavy call volume for one night,” said Owens.

At around 4 a.m., the department was called to extinguish a structure fire on Redford Street that sent one person to the hospital. The fire started in the 4000 block of the street, in a mixed-use building that has apartments located above commercial units, so the fire led to an automatic aid call for help from Beaver Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Department and Sproat Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Owens said the fire was accidentally started in the kitchen of one of the residential units.

“One resident was home and suffered some smoke inhalation, so they were transported to the hospital by ambulance,” said Owens. The unit sustained “fairly extensive fire damage,” so Emergency Support Services was called to arrange for alternate accommodations for the resident.

Because crews “aggressively attacked” the fire, they were able to contain it to the suite of origin, said Owens, and no other units were damaged.

The department was also called out twice to a hog fuel pile fire at Paper Excellence’s Catalyst mill on Stamp Avenue, once just after midnight and again later in the morning when the pile began to catch fire again.

“The second time we used the ladder truck so we could have an elevated master stream,” said Owens. “Typically these just auto-ignite if fuel is not turned over for a period of time, so we think that was the cause, rather than any external heat sources.”

Earlier in the evening, the department also had an automatic aid call to a structure fire in Sproat Lake’s area.

City phone lines were down for part of the night for scheduled maintenance, including the phone at the fire department office on 10th Avenue, but 911 calls were not interrupted during this outage.

“Because we were out most of the night responding to calls, we probably wouldn’t have been able to answer the office phone anyway,” said Owens.

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Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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